Disturbing the peace on Sundays
As I dragged our son James towards the back of the church, it was apparent he wasn’t going down without a fight.
My face was beginning to turn red as James did the “dead weight” routine, collapsing his whole body on the floor while tugging at my arm. He even let out a few shouts of “Momma” and “I want Daddy.”
And as we “quietly” made our way out of the sanctuary, I thought to myself that this is punishment for all those times I gave my grandparents and mother more than they bargained for during Sunday services.
Where does he get this from, I asked myself as we make our way back to the nursery.
My husband Jason and I are trying to transition James from sitting in the nursery to actually being with us in “big church.”
He is four years old, and the time has come for him to sit between us during services.
I have this misconception that James will sit ever so quietly between us, hands folded in his lap. He will bow his head in silence with every prayer. He will attempt to sing every hymnal. And he will quietly take his seat in front of the congregation during children’s time and pay attention to the lesson.
When James enters the sanctuary, a few ladies immediately start praying. I have seen a few men give Jason that look of “I’ve been there, buddy.”
He never quietly takes his seat in the pew. He flings himself down, stretching his legs out like he thinks he is fixing to take a nap.
I have to threaten taking away a toy just to get him to sit up straight.
And then the questions start.
What are those people doing up there?
Why can’t I have another doughnut?
When are we going to sing another song?
Why can’t I color on this book?
Can I pretend I’m a bear?
And these questions are never whispered. They are questions shouted to the roof top. The pew in front probably has some spit sprayed on it from my aggressive “ssshhh.”
And James has only actually made it to “children’s time” about three times. The last time I had to remove him from the lineup at the altar because he began hitting himself in the face to get a few laughs. Somehow he was surprised to discover that I wasn’t laughing.
I know that James is still young and “boys will be boys.”
But as I drag him out every Sunday, I notice other children sitting quietly with their parents. They occasionally snicker or jump up for no reason. But they have never had to be escorted out.
When I was a little kid, Maw Maw would either give me “the look” or come over and pinch me. That was all it took for me to get in line.
And when I was really bad, she would get up in the middle of services and drag me to the back. I would return with a sore bottom, red face and a case of the sniffles.
But she certainly got my attention.
I know it’s just part of being a parent, and James will eventually get out of this stage and become more civilized in church. But it’s a long journey.
I know we will get down it soon enough. I managed to survive it myself when I was a kid.
As a child during church, I have been pinched, spanked and moved. I have received the Word of the Lord and the order of Maw Maw, all at once. I have been herded like cattle down the aisles. And I think the preacher said a personal prayer for me along the way.
But I came out all right, and Maw Maw and Momma survived too.
Sometimes I just wish they would have left me some tips or advice.
But where would the fun be in that?